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Seattle Keeping 20 Miles of Streets Closed for Good

Mayor says coronavirus measure will remain permanent
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2020 1:22 PM CDT

(Newser) – In April, Seattle shut down a slew of thoroughfares as part of its Stay Healthy Streets Initiative, a plan designed to give residents more space to exercise and get some fresh air while still being able to practice social distancing. Now the city has announced that at least 20 miles' worth of those roadways will be pedestrian- and bike-only territory for good. The initiative is "an important tool for families in our neighborhoods to get outside, get some exercise, and enjoy the nice weather," Mayor Jenny Durkan says in a release, noting this is just one of the city's strategies in its "marathon" fight against the coronavirus. "Over the long term, these streets will become treasured assets in our neighborhoods." Only vehicles used by residents will be permitted on the shut-down roads, as well as those of emergency responders, delivery drivers, and sanitation workers, per CNN.

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Signage will be installed along affected streets in the coming weeks to let drivers know about alternate routes, reports the Seattle Times, which notes even more roads may be added to the list based on demand. The cost to close all these streets permanently will be between $100,000 and $200,000, per estimates by the Seattle Department of Transportation. The city also announced it will be upping construction of bike infrastructure in the coming months. The Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board lauded the city's move, noting it would help cut down not only on the spread of the virus, but also on pollution and traffic. "All these [actions] together will help ... Seattle come back as a safer, healthier, and more climate-friendly city," the group says, per the city release. (Read more Seattle stories.)

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